Fatal Levin crash: New Plymouth school mourns staff killed in collision

Three of four people who died in a horror crash worked at a New Plymouth school and were heading home after attending the Covid response protest at Parliament.

Four people died in the crash involving a truck and a van on State Highway 1 south of Levin yesterday.

Staff at Devon Intermediate School are in shock and mourning after learning the news yesterday.

Principal Jenny Gellen confirmed that three of those who died worked at the school.

One was the school caretaker, one wasa teacher aide and another was a class teacher.

“Devon Intermediate is shocked and saddened to announce that three of our staff members passed away yesterday in a crash near Levin,” Gellen said.

“All were extremely valued staff who will be sadly missed.”

Gellen said the incident was the last thing people would wish on anyone or a school.

“But most importantly the families. And all of them were family people.”

Gellen declined to comment on the Government’s Covid mandate or its impact on the school and said she was currently focusing on supporting staff, students and wider whānau of those who had died.

'Taken way too soon'

The family of the caretaker have also posted of their loss on social media today.

“i miss you dad. taken way to soon, i love you forever & always,” the man’s daughter wrote.

The man’s wife wrote, “Oh my love, I will love and miss you forever. Taken doing something you truly believed in with all my support, my freedom fighter. Love you.”

The group had attended the protest outside Parliament, organised by The Freedoms and Rights Coalition who want an end to Covid restrictions and vaccine mandates.

At around 11.45am, a group of around 100 motorbikes arrived at Parliament, followed by thousands of protesters shouting “freedom now!”

Those in the crowds include young and old, and a diverse mix of ethnicities. Protest signs range from anti-vaccine to “Trump 2020”, alongside tino rangatiratanga and United Tribes flags.

Kāpiti’s mayor is demanding urgent safety action to fix the “killing fields” stretch of State Highway 1 where four people died yesterday.

Mayor says crash scene the 'killing fields'

Kāpiti Coast Mayor K Gurunathan described the stretch of State Highway 1 between Ōtaki and Levin as the “killing fields highway”.

The latest crash highlighted the urgent need for the Government to build the new expressway earlier, he said.

“Following two consecutive accidents and deaths back in November 2018, in a joint statement with the Horowhenua Mayor, I reminded NZTA of the observation made by former coroner Philip Comber who noted that over the past 25 years the road had become “a killing field marked like a battlefield with white crosses”.

“It’s now November 2021 and little seems to have changed,” Gurunathan said.

The Automobile Association said the crash area was one of the worst black spots in the country.

Horowhenua District Mayor Bernie Wanden said the stretch of road is renowned for being unsafe and desperately needs to be improved.

“There’s already been three fatalities in the area this year at least and this is just adding to the terrible statistics.

“It’s a stretch of road between Ōhau and Manakau with a passing lane going south and a turn off to Kuku Beach.

“Around that bend we have a lot of issues.”

Source: Read Full Article